Since its inception in 1984, the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders has refined a system which allows a continuous work schedule throughout the year. This is achieved by performing trail work at high elevations during the summer months and at low elevations in the winter.
Some of the major projects in the Angeles National Forest by the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders include:
- Islip Ridge Trail climbs from Crystal Lake (5575') 3.9 miles to the junction of the Big Cienega Trail (8080'), then continues .9 mile up the ridge to the junction (8080') just below the summit of Mt. Islip (8250"). Los Angeles Times hiking columnist and best-selling author, John McKinney, has this to say about the trail: "The best hike in the Crystal Lake area is up Islip Ridge. Connoisseurs will appreciate the lookand feelof hand-built Islip Ridge Trail. The moderate grade, well-engineered switchbacks, the rockwork and the way the path gently crosses the land are due to the skill and hard work of dedicated volunteers, particularly the San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders." (Walking Southern California: A Day Hiker's Guide, HarperCollins West, 1994, P. 157)
- Big Cienega Trail (sometimes spelled Big Cienaga Trail) climbs 1.8 miles from the Windy Gap Trail (6560') to the Islip Ridge Trail (8080'). The trail was dedicated on September 29, 1990, Labor Day weekend. The trail features a moderate grade and nice rockwork. Read the descriptions at Dan's Hiking Pages and at Wildernet.com.
- Hawkins Ridge Trail begins at the Pacific Crest Trail (8390') one half mile west of Mt. Hawkins and traverses Hawkins Ridge 2.3 miles to Hawkins Truck Trail (7470'), .6 miles from South Mount Hawkins (7783'). Historian and best-author, John Robinson, has this to say about the trail: "This circle trip climbs over or around all four of Nellie's [Hawkins] namesakes in covering the high country northwest and east of Crystal Lake. The highlight of the trip is following the new trail, built by Charles Jones and his San Gabriel Trailbuilders, along the ridge between Mt. Hawkins and South Hawkins Lookout road, with spectacular views both waysinto the Crystal Lake Basin to the west, and across the wild, trailless Iron Fork country to the east." (Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels, Wilderness Press, 7th Edition, 1998, p. 147)
- Wawona Cut-off Trail begans at the lake parking lot at Crystal Lake and climbs southwest about 1.25 miles to Islip Ridge to the beginning of the Islip Ridge Trail.
- Clear Creek Trail is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District outdoor education facility at Clear Creek. Over many winters, the SGMTB rerouted and refurbished numerous trails from the camp to the creek and also built a substantial bridge on one of the trails.
- Environmental Education Center Nature Trail, across the highway from the Rincon Fire Station on Hwy 39, is a half mile loop designed specifically for small school children who come to the Angeles National Forest in school buses to experience the outdoors for a day. In addition to building the trail system, the Trailbuilders built two fine bridges. See write-ups and photos October 5, 2007 and July 19, 2008
Other major repair and maintenance projects:
- Icehouse Canyon gabion basket "bridge" is about one mile up the immensely popular Icehouse Trail. At the direction of the Forest Service, SGMTB dismantled an old footbridge and constructed a gabion basket structure to span the ravine. The project took over a year and involved thousands of volunteer hours and the movement and placement of several tons of rock.
- John Seales Bridge over Laurel Gulch on East Fork Trail, San Gabriel River. The heavily used trail hosts thousands of hikers annually en route to the legendary Bridge to Nowhere. The SBMTB replaced an old footbridge with a beautiful new bridge named after the late John Seales, former Wilderness Coordinator for the San Gabriel River Ranger District, Angeles National Forest. The major project included the use of pack animals and a helicopter to transport materials to the site. See write-up and photos May 15, 2009
The following projects involved an array of tasks such as repairing extensive erosion damage, removing downed trees, removing rock slides, building rock retaining walls and water bars, cutting back brush, establishing good drainage, and restoring trail tread.
Note: The links provide a glimpse of some work days but do not represent the totality of the work days spent on a specific trail.
- Golden Cup Nature Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area - half-mile loop trail. See write-up and photos June 30, 2007
- Big Cienega Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area - climbs 1.8 miles from the Windy Gap Trail (6560') to the Islip Ridge Trail (8080'). See write-up and photos September 1, 2007
- Windy Gap Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area - climbs 2.5 miles to Windy Gap. See write-up and photos September 15, 2007
- Cedar Canyon Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area. See write-up and photos October 18, 2008
- Lost Ridge Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area - 1.2 miles. See write-up and photos July 2, 2011
- Pinyon Ridge Trail, Crystal Lake Recreation Area - 1.5 mile loop. See write-up and photos June 8, 2007
- Drainage culverts within the Crystal Lake Recreation Area - the Trailbuilders have done significant unclogging and repairs to restore drainage. See write-up and photos April 4, 2009
- Lower Bear Creek Trail, West Fork San Gabriel River. See write-up and photos December 8, 2008
- Upper Bear Creek, North Fork, San Gabriel River, Hwy 39 - 3 miles to Smith Saddle. See write-up and photos January 31, 2009
- Mount Waterman and Twin Peaks Trails (Two-day project removing downed trees across the trails). See write-up and photos July 27-28, 2007
- Heaton Flats Trail, East Fork, San Gabriel River. See write-up and photos January 30, 2010